Posted by: annaleefinch11 | March 21, 2014

How reality TV portrays women


So this article discusses how women are portrayed in reality TV.  We all know how horrible reality TV is yet we all have that one show that is our guilty pleasure.  One of the main issues with reality TV is how it is making women look.  Most of the women in reality TV are made out to be dumb, sluts, and bitchy.  There are so many cat fights that break out over guys and other times women are made out to be complete idiots.  This is just making it more difficult for women to be taken seriously when it comes to having a career because this is how most people think women really act.  There is even a quote from a business man who thinks he understands the modern woman because of how he sees women act on reality TV.

In this article it discusses all the issues reality TV is creating for women.  It discusses how women are bullies towards one another and verbally attack each other over dumb issues.  Some of the women who have dominated in certain reality TV shows leave the star light and focus on their own lives by creating businesses and focusing on their families.  These women are looked down on by the others who stay on the show and are considered to have “changed” since they aren’t on the show anymore.  So these women are looked at negatively for trying to make something of their lives…how does that make sense?  The article even discusses how producers edit material to make women look worse than they are or try to encourage the women to fight so there will be more drama for the audience to watch.  So my question is, whose fault is it that women are portrayed so poorly on TV?  Is it societies fault since we continue to watch these shows, the producers since they make these women look worse than they are or is it the women’s fault since they put themselves on the show?


  1. I think that society and the producers are both to blame for the portrayal of women on reality television. However, society continues to watch these shows because of how the producers make these women look, and the producers continue making the women look bad because it’s what society wants. However, once the females on reality television move past that phase in their lives and grow up, society cannot except the “real” them.

    The best example of this is the show Jersey Shore, and everyone’s favorite cast member Snooki. In the show, Snooki was the one always intoxicated, getting into fights, and being obnoxious. However, soon after the show ended, she got pregnant by her then boyfriend. She faced a plethora of scrutiny for getting pregnant, and she was completely bashed by society as being a bad mother before she even had her child! However, her son is now growing up and she is an EXCELLENT mother. She is now engaged to her son’s father, she has stopped drinking and partying, and is an amazing role model to her son Lorenzo. However, she still faces scrutiny daily by society due to the fact that she was portrayed so negatively on the show jersey shore. People grow up, and I think that society and reality television has brainwashed us to believe that what we see on television is these womens’ true selves. Maybe if we turn off the reality television and see these women for who they truly are, society may be a much better place.

  2. Wow you raise some awesome questions. I feel that the usual answer is that it’s the fault of the women who go on these reality shows. However reality TV has little reality in it, so you could say that the women are just acting and fulfilling the requirements of the producers and directors. So I would say that the fault lies with the producers and society as to why women are portrayed as bitches, sluts, and dumb on TV. Producers have an angle and they play into what society cannot get enough of, which is drama and fights. If society would not view these things as entertaining and instead as embarrassing and degrading, then the producers would not have a show because there would be no audience. I suppose the bottom line is that society would need to change in order for the reality TV to change, This is hard because like you said we all have our guilty pleasures, I tend to get drawn in to Keeping Up With the Kardashians and I know that is the worst TV show in the world, yet I watch it.

  3. I think this is such an important topic consuming our generation. I’d love to say that I would never watch reality TV but like you said, it is usually everyone’s guilty pleasure at some point. I watched an interview with one of the girls on real world and it explain perfectly why I think fault lies with the women on the shows. It is easy to just blame the producers because they usually instruct the actors, but the women who try out for reality TV know exactly the type of women reality TV looks for. In this girls interview, she says she should be chosen for the show because she knows what society wants to see and she knows how to act like what they want.

    Go to 30 second
    (Just a warning: it is not the most appropriate clip)

    Absolutely, the producers and society are causing a demand for women to act in this way on TV, but really WANTING to act like those women is a whole different step. If society were to stop being interested in watching women act bitchy and slutty then eventually reality TV would fade out, but if women would have more respect for themselves and not try out for shows in the first place, then the shows would but cut off.

  4. I’m really, really glad that someone posted about this specific topic of this issue with how women are portrayed in the media and on television. It is definitely a problem that needs to be addressed.

    I’ve always really disliked reality TV for a number of reasons but the way women are inaccurately represented is one of my biggest issues with many shows today. It’s hard to say who is to blame for women’s misrepresentation on TV because the producers as well as society who watch the shows are both guilty. It seems to me that these women’s negative and extreme behaviors of fighting with other women by verbally or physically attacking them, is just very staged and not real. I mean, how often do people see women behaving like this on a daily basis? I’m sure that we really only see this happening on TV. Although, in the article, it did state, “In 2010, 15 of the top 20 highest rated broadcast television programs among those 18 to 49, were reality or unscripted shows.” Some of these shows may be unscripted, but it also doesn’t mean that these women’s behaviors are genuine or real, either. The actresses on TV know that more drama is what draws more attention and viewers to watch the show, so I, personally, think that they are basically just motivated by money, or to increase their popularity amongst other celebrities.

    So, in a way, I think that both parties are to blame. The producers are to blame for creating false images of women, which, in turn, gives viewers the idea that those behaviors that they see on TV are ‘normal,’ and causes society to expect women to act different ways daily. It also could create pressure and tension for women to act similar to how they see women acting on TV because they think that this is how they should act. It is also society’s fault because we all continue to watch these reality TV shows. By giving the shows more attention by watching them, we are increasing its popularity and giving them the false idea that their shows have become so successful because of how they are portraying women. In order to ever see a change in how women are misrepresented on TV, we must all (men AND women) stop watching these shows until the producers get the message that we aren’t interested in it anymore.

  5. I think an interesting thing to point out is that people like these shows because they like to be entertained and see people’s lifestyles that are more drama-filled and exciting than their own. But, in reality, a good portion of these show’s materials are scripted. To go along with Tori’s mention of Snooki, I actually watched an interview with her shortly after Jersey Shore ended and she actually stated that many of the lines she said were told to her by producers. She quoted that “Nobody is really that dumb.” Another example I can think of is Jessica Simpson. When she had her show “Newlyweds” a few years ago, she was portrayed as a dumb blonde housewife who couldn’t do anything on her own. In reality, she also alluded to the fact later on that much of her actions were scripted. I think this shows how the producers play a main role in trying to shape stereotypical views of women. However, I also think it is society’s fault too because we condone this kind of behavior as being entertainment and commonplace. This then gives others the idea that they can lump ALL women into the categories that these women on TV are put in. But, in a way, I also think it is the women who participate in these shows fault too because they are also agreeing to change who they are just to get star ratings or make money. When it comes down to it though, is the money really worth sacrificing your true identity for? I think this is a prime example of mask-wearing at its finest. So, to answer your question, I think that multiple people are to blame for the way TV portrays women. Women have been portrayed negatively on TV since it first began in the 50’s with the housewife stereotype. Unfortunately though, I don’t see this portrayal changing soon until our definition of women in general changes.

  6. I think this topic is so interesting because it is so prevalent in our lives right now. TV shows and more specifically reality TV shows are a hit. There seems to be a new reality TV show out every few months. Reality TV shows are a guilty pleasure. A few of mine are Dance Moms & Teen Mom. Both of which portray women, more specifically mothers as incompetent, catty women. I think that everyone brings up a good point that it is a shared responsibility as to why these shows continue to air despite their negative stereotype against women. I do agree that it is the producers fault that they are creating this drama and that they edit these shows to make women seem to be so negative. I also agree that women should not want to try and act out and encourage that behavior by trying out for these shows. However, I do understand why they do it. They do it for the money. These shows, no matter what show it is, are very successful with their ratings. These reality stars get paid BIG bucks from these shows. In addition, we have all witnessed over the years that from these reality shows, the reality TV stars begin to be on other talk shows, and miraculously become entrepreneurs, fashion designers and authors. So the women who audition for these roles are women who are thinking of one thing, survival. And in today’s society, the ones who cause the most drama, party the most and pass out from alcohol poising the most are the ones who get the biggest deals. I think that the people to blame for this constant publication of these negative TV shows is us. Society as a whole has to stop engaging in these diminishing shows against women. I think Jessica O is right in that if we continue feeding into these shows and increasing their popularity then we are just giving the producers and these women the okay to continue degrading women on TV. I say that society needs to change but that goes for me as well. But the question I think arises is why are these shows so captivating? From personal experience I think why I continue to engage in these shows is because I look at these women and I judge about how awful their lives are. This may sound bad but I look at them and it makes me thankful that I am not in their predicament. Sometimes though, a lot of the drama is just funny. The way producers edit these clips really makes it entertaining to watch, which is sad to say but I do feel that we should stop engaging so much into these kind of TV shows. Because once again if they weren’t as popular as they are and if we were not so demanding of these shows they would not be as important.

  7. I think a lot of it is society’s fault. Everyone will always lose their cool once and awhile, men and women, and we judge them for it based on their sex. I know I love trash TV, it is definitely one of my guilty pleasures, but I am so negative towards the women. I’m not always nice to the men, but the women I judge extra harshly. I’m not sure if that’s because I expect better from them? Or if it is because that is what I have grown up doing, but I always look at the women with more judgmental eyes.
    We have talked about this in class, how women are their own worst enemies and I think that is so true; if we didn’t call women sluts and bitches, men would not feel nearly as comfortable doing it. I think as a society we need to rethink the importance of what we want out of live, but that is extremely hard because so many of us love the reality, crap TV. It’s a hard balance and how do we figure out what to do? I know that I respect women and I want women to be respected, but I love shows like Real World and Are you the One? I just wish there was a way to keep reality Tv shows, out of reality.

  8. I think it is a combination of both the producers and the women on the show. For one, any woman that goes on a reality TV show is not going on it for positive motives…for it is obvious that reality TV shows, especially ones like “Bad Girls Club” and “Jersey Shore” do not help to better yourself. Every woman that applies for a TV show is doing it for the money and fame. The producers really should try to avoid cutting scenes and encouraging women to fight, but that IS what society wants, and their job is to cater to their audience. Producers do not care what happens to the actual women in terms of consequences to portraying them like this, so why would they stop? That one quote from the business man disgusts me. I really do hope that few men actually buy into this idea of how women act, and assume that it is true for everyone. I think that society would do well to encourage people to stop making assumptions based off of a small number of people from a large group. If men stop seeing women as being emotional, crazy, and “sluts” from TV shows, especially reality TV, then we could really move to a more level playing field.

  9. It honestly blows my mind how reality TV has been allowed to be given the audience it has. It’s crazy how so many people love to watch the “lives” of these people, all their scripted tears and over-dramatized angers. It’s part of our modern culture and I’m not sure why, for the majority, we’re obsessed with this. I think society’s culture and media self perpetuate. The media feeds society what they think it wants, and then we in turn come to expect what we’ve been given to be the norm and ask for more. I think it sets an extremely negative light on women in general because we have tendency to blanket women based on a description that very few women may actually reflect

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